Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sangean DT-400W Mini Review

The Sangean DT-400W is a dream receiver. Let me explain what I mean by this. If I had had one of these little radios when I was a teenage kid in the early 1960s I would have been in heaven. Digital tuning. It receives AM and FM frequencies, though no shortwave. It receives the Weather band. Good sensitivity. Fair but acceptable selectivity. Shirt pocket sized, and ten times better than the Japanese transistor radios of the day. And today, almost the perfect ultralight. I ordered mine from PROVANTAGE.COM for $49.58 plus shipping.

The DT-400W is the size of a pack of cigarettes, only thinner. It is in a vertical format, as were the transistor radios of many years ago. Audio is crisp, and very enjoyable. It has no external antenna, save the loopstick at the bottom of the radio for the MW band.

Two AA batteries are required. Battery life is fair, though nowhere near the Kaito WRX911. I use a pair of 2500 mAH NIMH rechargeables.

Tuning is accomplished with up and down arrow buttons. 19 memory positions are present for saving your favorite channels. A drawback I find is that you cannot tune out of a memory channel as the memory function is part of the carousel band switching method: AM-FM-MEMORY. You must switch back to the AM or FM band before you can tune again.

Sensitivity is good, and better than most ultralights. I find the selectivity only fair, but about the same as most small ultralights. In a dense RF environment, you may have some channel bleed on adjacent frequencies. The new DSP ultralights promise better selectivity, but so far have not shown better sensitivity. I find its nulling capabilities on the MW band also excellent.

Lack of an FM or Weather band antenna has been overcome by having the radio's circuitry couple to the headphone lead-in when headphones are connected. A short wire is also supplied with a headphone type plug on one end to act as an antenna if you are using the speaker.

The DT-400W comes with a nice belt clip which you can attach to the back. Volume control is a traditional wheel at the top. A switch is also at the top which will give DBB bass boost to the radio. A lock switch is at the right side which will prevent the radio from changing settings or tuning should you bump it.

Power button is at the top as well, and a quick press turns the radio on and sets a 90 minute timer. The radio will turn off after 90 minutes in case you fall asleep. Holding the power button down for an extra second will void this "feature". The dial has a nice, warm yellow backlight which comes on for a few seconds if the controls are touched.

The DT-400W couples to a passive loop fairly well, though not as well as some ultralights. Coupling needs to be quite close. Remember the loopstick is at the bottom of the radio.

Though not a cheap buy at a $50-dollar bill, the DT-400W lives up to my expectations very nicely. When I want a small portable unit to take with me, I usually grab it versus the other radios I have. Very nice, indeed.

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